Friday, July 29, 2005

So I've been reading old issues of the Avengers...

And Captain America... well, I think the pictures speak for themselves. But that's never stopped me from writing things.

Cap's sidekick, Bucky, was blown to bits (well, everyone thought he was, anyway, up until recently. And look at how maturely I handled the "blown" thing) by Baron Zemo at the tail end of World War 2 (and the "tail end" thing, too. I really am growing up). Cap, however, was simply launched into the North Atlantic, where he was frozen in a giant block of ice and subsequently worshipped by eskimos. Yeah. And this incredibly likely chain of events goes on like this. Namor the Sub-Mariner, Prince of Atlantis, was in the middle of one of his customary monologues when he came across said eskimos and decided that their religious artifacts, in this case a frozen World War 2 hero, were objects of scorn, and hurled the Capscicle back into the ocean, where it was promptly found and thawed out by the Avengers (at that time consisting of Thor, Iron Man and Giant-Man, with the Wasp acting as proof that Stan Lee still hadn't met a girl at the time of his writing her dialog). Cap, upon waking up, tries to beat up the Avengers thinking that they'd killed Bucky. This isn't the last we hear of his long-dead sidekick.

When he first meets Rick Jones, the Most Important Teenager in Any Fictional Universe Ever (he was the guy Bruce Banner was trying to save when he got gamma bombed, turning him into the Hulk. He was an unofficial Avenger for a while. He was Cap's sidekick. He shared atoms with Captain Marvel. Oh, and he was the carrier of the Destiny Force that ended an intergalactic war. Not bad for an orphan whose only discernable traits are bad luck and looking a bit like a dead guy Captain America had a crush on), he assumes that he is, in fact, Bucky (the shadowy figure in the first picture's Rick. Not shown, Captain America's giant erection).

Soon enough, Cap's palling around with Rick and his "Teen Brigade" (a group of white kids with ham radios who would call up superheroes and tell them about trouble, usually after seeing a newspaper that said Kang the Conqueror had landed in Washington, I guess because Iron Man doesn't read the paper) and letting Rick sit in on Avengers meetings.

Rick was the Hulk's sidekick for a while, riding around on his back and tucking him into bed. I wish I was kidding about the bed part. Hulk turned on the Avengers and bailed on his boy, leaving Rick in the lurch, looking for a superhero to latch on to.

Cap then decided to teach him some "acrobatic tricks."

Not to mention the whole "TAKE IF OFF!! I NEVER TOLD YOU TO WEAR IT!!" thing (I love Stan Lee's use of multiple instances of the same bit of puncuation. Two exclamation points shows twice as much shock as one). So, the next time somebody says that Batman's all about Robin, think about the love Captain America, Two-Fisted Terror of Tyranny, had for his little buddies Bucky and Rick. And cringe a little.

(By the way, all images copyright someone who ain't me, no doubt. If you want them pulled, Powers That Be, let me know.)

Stupid other pullbox.

The Flash #224: Here's the thing: I hated the Flash for years. You think about him just a little bit and you realize he's pretty close to unbeatable unless he screws up, and all of his fights should really be over before they start, plus, when I was little, Flash could only do the speed of sound, meaning Batman could beat him places with a proper plane and like fifteen characters were faster than him under their own power. When your gimmick is being the Fastest Man Alive, you'd better not have Wonder Girl showing up at the scene of a crime before you. But I've been reading Johns' run here for five years now. That might be the longest I've read any title consistently ever (well, I guess Planetary's been coming out for five years, but there's only, what, twenty-three issues of that? Ultimate X-Men, oddly enough, is a close second, but I didn't wean myself off the free issues Marvel ran on their website until around the eighteenth issue), and that's really saying something. I'll do a writeup on the whole run when it ends next month, but, for now, here's the second to last issue.

If this run is remembered for nothing else, I think it'll be Zoom. Overall, the Rogues are more formidable and fleshed out (well, most of them. The memorable ones. Nothing anyone can do is ever going to put Tar Pit over, as far as I'm concerned, and Johns' weird habit of throwing a random bad guy in a prison scene kind of got old by the time we saw, like, Double Down the fifth time without knowing who the Hell he was), but Zoom is the most interesting of the bunch. Remember my complaints about Hush? Zoom was just the opposite. Hunter Zolomon kicked around for over a year before blowing up a Cosmic Treadmill and deciding he needed to teach the Flash tragedy. That's a novel motivation, something far more entertaining (not to mention logical) than envying Bruce Wayne's lack of parents (seriously, he wanted to be an orphan? That was the reason for all that nonsense?) or... actually, I've never really gotten a handle on why the Green Goblin hates Spider-Man. I guess he's just crazy. Besides, Reverse-Flash has the coolest costume ever. Shut up, I went to art school, I swear to God.

Both Zooms show up this time around, which is nice, because one's rocking the new Reverse-Flash get-up and the other one has the classic. That's really all it takes to make me happy.

Porter does a good job aping Scott Kolins' style in the flashbacks, and Zoom's method of torturing Wally is probably the first clever use of the damned silly Cosmic Treadmill I've ever seen. Overall, I think Rogue War will end up a better read in trades, but it's been a pretty good straight superhero ride for the last four months.

There's a bit with the old, dead Captain Boomerang that's bound to have some sort of insane repercussion somewhere, by the way.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Reviews for 7.28.05

Wherein I get bloody gypped.

The shop I go to gets new books late, usually sometime on Thursday. Two hours after they opened, they were sold out of JLA: Classified, Wonder Woman and Runaways, honest-to-God the only books I intended to buy this week. Warren Ellis took over Classified this month, and I'd buy an issue of Sugar and Spike if he was writing it. Apparently, so would everyone else who shops around here. Wonder Woman tied into the two Superman books I reviewed last week, not to mention Omac Project, so it's no surprise it's out, even though the shop tripled its order on the book for this month. Runaways sells out randomly, which is why I end up having to buy it in that silly little digest format Marvel reprints it in (I guess they're catering to a young adult market with a working knowledge of Cloak and Dagger. Not to mention, oh, the Wrecking Crew, Darkhawk, Power Pack, the non-villain Green Goblin, Turbo and d-list ex-X-man Chamber. Book's like a Who's Who of ridiculous characters you'd never think you'd see again).

Anyway, on to books I actually got.

Omac Project #4: I was warned that I shouldn't read this until I'd read Wonder Woman, but I'm a risktaker, so I'll take a guess as to what happened in that sold-out issue: Wonder Woman decided to fight Max Lord, and then did, in fact, fight Max Lord. Said fight has ridiculous, albeit mostly off-panel, repercussions here. Poor Rocket Red looks like he's been stuck in the same fight since the first issue, and he's finally bailed out by Martian Manhunter. The art's really kind of nice, and has been the whole series. The only complaint I have on that end is that all the female Checkmate operatives look almost exactly the same, which gets a hair confusing every now and again.

Catwoman #44-45: Nothing else was in the store, I like Wil Pfeifer and Pete Woods, and it was the start of a new storyline. I think I have one issue of Catwoman ever, a tie-in to freakin' Contagion. Pfeifer has a better handle on Hush than Loeb did. Say what you will about Loeb's run on Batman, but after a while, weren't you just buying the damned thing because of the art? You can't retcon in a new childhood friend for Bruce Wayne at the same time that you bring in a brand new villain and not have anyone who's ever seen a movie, read a book or watched a television show put two and two together. Back on topic, this made for a fun little read, and I'll be getting next month's, even if I'm almost embarassed to have Adam Hughes covers anywhere in my house. It's like really sad softcore porn.

JLA #24-41: Yeah, the tail end of Morrison's run. I've only had subscriptions to two comics ever: Amazing Spider-Man and JLA. AMS was right around the end of the "I'm not Peter Parker, I'm just the Spider" era up through the beginning of the clone nonsense. I think my last issue was the one where Vulture, at the time young and wearing a costume that was somehow more stupid than his original, poisoned Spider-Man and Spidey thought he'd die. Davedevil, also wearing a costume somehow more stupid than his original (remember that thing? Black and red? Jesus), had just gotten rid of his Matt Murdock identity, and advised Pete to do the same.

Dire, depressing, really boring stuff. Also, the Goddamn Owl was in it, and that can't help matters at all. (If you're curious, it was AMS #396. Eleven years ago. Damn my memory for these things.)

JLA I subscribed to during its first year, when Morrison was firing on all of his mad cylinders. My subscription cut out right in the middle of the Ultramarines arc (roundabouts #25) and my local comic shop closed around the same time, so I've been missing all the World War 3 issues.

On JLA, Morrison basically wrote a forty issue story, broken up in to smaller chapters. He had a beginning and end in mind, and it shows. Some of it gets patently ridiculous (the tail end of Rock of Ages is insane, for example), but it all moves towards the conclusion in #41. They could've ended the series right here, honestly, because, with the exception of the very next arc (Waid's Tower of Babel), I can't think of anything interesting that's happened in JLA since then.

In trade, Justice for All has a nice Mark Millar Amazo/Atom story (back when Millar was best known as the writer of Superman Adventures. You know, the one for kids? Based on the cartoon? Weird, ain't it?), as well as the first appearence of the Ultramarines and Superbia, a major plot point in Morrison's Classified run.

World War 3's worth it if solely for Orion's giant dog. But skip the DeMatteis Spectre story; not only does it not matter now, it was boring then.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Oh, Wizard.

This month's Wizard's got one of those "Director's Cut" situations with Bendis and David Finch talking about the first New Avengers arc. Bendis says, at one point, that with forty-three villains on the loose from the first issue prison break that "even if they get one per issue, we're still good for almost fifty issues."

I'd say it's closer to, oh, I don't know, a hundred twenty-nine. I can't imagine Bendis could possibly rein in the incessant Goddamn talking prior to anything happening to keep even a Crossbones story to less than three issues. The Slug would probably get six. Maybe there'll be four issues of introspective soul-searching while characters discuss their motives out loud.

Look, you can put Wolverine on a team, I don't care, but if you tell me it's anything other than a sales ploy, you're full of shit. Iron Man saying that Wolverine is the "missing ingredient" the team needs doesn't make it make any more sense (kudos, however, on Bendis not having Iron Man say that Wolverine was the "X-factor" that the team lacked. I was fully expecting it). And Finch saying that anything SHIELD does is "exactly how it would happen in the real world" is absolutely bughouse crazy, especially given the fact that he's referring to the politics of SHIELD using their physics-defying enormous flying base to rain missiles down on a rogue faction of their own organization which was taking part in a slave trade involving cavemen living in a jungle hidden on the south pole. With dinosaurs. They could've dropped Jesus into the gaping maw of a giant leprechaun and it would've been more realistic.

Even Wizard could only find one thing worth talking about in the third issue. Hell, I don't even remember what happened in the third issue, and I read it less than four months gone. I remember specifics of late-eighties Batman issues that I read when I was five, for God's sake. Dialog, even!

They've got Day of Vengeance listed as the "Book of the Month," and they don't mention Jim Rook on the team, I guess because even their crack squad of research monkeys couldn't be bothered to care about him, either. Listen, ESPN still gives the rules of poker every time they show it on TV for the benefit of the vast minority who don't know what a flush is already. On the same token, DC oughta give people the benefit of the doubt and give me a paragraph on characters that only pop up in crap like Black Baptism, especially in a series that's probably going to end up mucking about with far more important characters.

Plus, there's seven pages of Alex Ross bitching about various and sundry things, in case you've been wondering what he's been up to since he was last interviewed. In the same magazine. Four months ago. Apparently, doing a twelve issue miniseries featuring a version of the JLA not seen since, like, 1979 is okay, but having Bucky turn up alive is "recycling" and therefore unforgivable. I guess there's a public outcry to see some hot Red Tornado action.

Oh, and Wizard marginalized their female readership slightly more by running a two page spread of random female comic characters they want to see more of. Washing a car. Yeah. They want "a hot redhead" in the Batgirl costume again. Classy.

Tomorrow or Friday: this week's reviews. Sometime soon: 1602 and New Frontier.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

God Help Me, I Did Research.

I now know who Jim Rook is. The Nightmaster. Found his name in the Hot List This Week blurb for Day of Vengeance #3, curiously in the back of Day of Vengeance #3 (slow week, I guess), which listed the members of the Shadowpact but left out Nightshade, which is understandable, given that she wasn't referred to by name until the third issue.

Nightmaster, for his part, has a hair over a dozen appearances lifetime, as far as I can tell, the last of which being in Harley Quinn, of all places.

Honestly, every issue of Teen Titans has started with a page where I'm told who's on the team, and those are characters that've been appearing consistently for years now. Hell, Morrison used to do it on JLA, and that was when the team was just the Big Seven and Plastic Man. Most of these guys haven't popped up since Day of Judgment, and that was six years ago. And I'm pretty sure Enchantress died in that one, now that I think about it.

And where in the Hell is the Spear of Destiny? Shouldn't the central Spectre-killing plot be to dig up the Goddamn Sentinels of Magic to conjure up that stupid plot point? Spectre seems to've aced out most of them (Fate's stuck in his hat, Xanadu's blinded, Phantom Stranger's a mouse), but Alan Scott's just hanging out over Chicago when we last saw him, Doctor Occult was left in the Oblivion Bar as near as I can tell, and I'm pretty sure Faust was one of the people lending his magic to Captain Marvel. I can understand Spectre forgetting Ragman was part of the group that could, in theory, off him, because God knows I did.

Friday, July 22, 2005

But Wait, There's More

Turns out I got four more books from my pullbox at a different shop. Yeah, I'm a disloyal enough customer that I pull books at one shop at buy books at another.

Anyway, 7.21.05 Redux:

Wherein Brian Vaughan sort of lets me down, Batman gets a fill-in issue worthy of a free comic that you'd get to teach you about diabetes or drug addiction or something, and Mark Millar surprises me a bit.

Batman #642. I'll admit that I'm actually so lazy that I'm still pulling Batman from Hush. But Jon, you say, that was, what, a couple years ago? Yeah, so it was. But Jon, don't you hate Judd Winick? Well, not personally, really. I didn't like him on Green Lantern and I didn't like him on Green Arrow, but his Batman run's been actually kinda okay. Mostly in a "my God, who thought turning Scarecrow into the Hulk was a good idea?" kind of way. But the Red Hood thing was well executed, and the art's been damn good.

And now we have this. I'm guessing this is a fill-in arc, especially since I don't recognize either the penciller or the writer, and I'm thinking that's with good reason. Seriously, you ever get a comic where, like, Spider-Man teaches you that reading is fundamental by leaping into classic books and fighting, say, the tripods from War of the Worlds? Or the one where the Power Pack taught me that molestation is something you should tell a trusted adult about? This reads like one of those. Just feels... cheap. Were it not for the references to Hush and War Games and such, I'd think this was a stock story, left sitting in a file cabinet in case somebody misses a deadline on Legends of the Dark Knight. But now I've got another tantalizing issue about Killer Croc to look forward to.

Also, I have no idea what the Hell the deal is with Killer Croc. He's looked different the last five times I've seen him, and you can say things about Hush "mutating" him all you want, I'm still just thinking "artistic license" every time he shows up as green instead of white or snoutless instead of snout-bearing. It makes things easier on me.

Ultimate X-Men #61: Oh boy, Polaris and Havok. I'll save you the five minutes: Polaris has some kind of crazy problem with her powers and offs some firemen (I can almost hear the "OH MY GOD YOU CAN'T SHOW FIREMEN DYING!!" letters being typed), Wolverine makes a stripper joke, and Magneto likes chess. Emma Frost is running another School for Gifted Youngsters (Sunspot just joined up, bringing the count of characters Vaughan's brought into the Ultimate universe to a freaking billion). Stuart Immonen remains one of my favorite pencillers, and Vaughan's usually better than this.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #21: The first six issues of this book were, pretty easily, my least favorite Ultimate issues ever. They told, over the course of six months, a story that Stan Lee told in, seriously, like nine pages. I can almost take this sort of thing on a title where I don't know what's going to happen, but building the anticipation on the Fantastic Four fighting Mole Man is like putting a twenty minute opening on a Mario game: you know the Princess is getting kidnapped, you know who's going to do it, and you know who's going to win already. Just get to the Goddamn point, you know? Anyway, since issue seven, UFF's been one of my favorites every month. Warren Ellis was a big part of that, but Mike Carey's two-issue Mad Thinker story was fun. Millar and Land, though, this is nice. Land draws dinosaurs like nobody's business. I'll even overlook Sue Storm's sudden total porn hair. That's how nice the art is. And the story, well, thank God it didn't go the way I thought it would. Millar's always good for a decent twist, and this did not disappoint.

Ultimates 2 #7. Wish this'd come out more often. The last couple pages were Goddamn brutal, in the best possible way. Invisotext on:

I figured I could always say "at least Ultimate Hawkeye's still alive."

One last thing before I actually go: I haven't touched this House of M stuff, and it doesn't seem like it'll make any difference in the Marvel U comics I actually read (Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, Marvel Team-Up and, inexplicably, Young Avengers), but the pictures I've seen of it... Hawkeye's costume looks silly now. Not to say it ever looked, you know, unsilly, but it's one of those sacred cow costumes, one that you should only change if you really want to bother people (like, you know, putting wings on Captain America's head instead of an A, or something). I couldn't tell you specifically what's different about it now, but it seems, I don't know, more mid-nineties than it used to. I think perhaps because his left arm's covered in banded metal. I mean, I'm no archer, but little gaps between strips of metal on your arm seem like a really awesome place to get your drawstring stuck.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This Week's Reviews: 7.21.05

This week's reviews:

Astonishing X-Men #11. A victim of near catastrophic decompression. Not to say it's not a good book - it's a good book - it's just that this story could've been told in three issues or less. This issue also features a scene where half-a-man (referred to, I swear to God, as a "fucking cripple" by the book's current villain, a faintly ridiculous anthropomorphic version of the Danger Room, though Marvel replaced the swear parts with the little symbols above the numbers on a keyboard. It ended up reading like Dagwood Bumstead was swearing after dropping a giant sandwich on the tools his neighbor borrowed but never gave back. But I digress) Charles Xavier drives a truck into his opponent. Ended up being an illusion, but there was still that moment where I was left thinking "he sure is lucky he stole a wheelchair-accessible truck." Cassaday's art is, as always, freakin' great, but drawing people realistically really does show how stupid a normal guy would look in, say, Colossus' get-up.

All at once: Action Comics #829 and Adventures of Superman #642. I've started picking up Action because Gail Simone writes it. That's about it. I've got a long-standing belief that Superman works better as a supporting character in other people's books and is really sort of dull on his own that I've never had disproved, so the Superman books were never personal favorites. Anyway, these two end up being the middle two parts of a four-issue storyline called "Sacrifice," taking place between Omac Project #3 and 4. Sacrifice part one, over in the other Superman book (called, you know, "Superman") had sold out in my local shop, which seems to be out of the ordinary, since I could grab a complete run of the last four year's worth of that title off the rack pretty easily.

The comic shop guy summed up the issue I'd missed by telling me Supes had spent the whole issue saving his supporting cast from Brainiac. At issue's end, he's left in his Fortress of Solitude (which is now in the Amazon jungle, for some reason. It's a big Mayan temple situation with an S on the front. I think the "S" is for "Subtle.") surrounded by the Justice League with blood on his hands.

Action's a flashback to what Superman thinks happened in part one, except this time he's fighting Darkseid, so, clearly, something's afoot, but the reveal at the end of the issue's really a pretty solid one, and something I didn't see coming, so I've got to give Simone credit on that front. Adventure was interesting enough that I'll actually end up buying next month's Wonder Woman for the end of the story. Mind you, I have never actually purchased Wonder Woman. Ever.

I've got a really weird nitpick about this story that I can't rightly get into without blowing most of the interesting stuff so invisotext follows. Highlight if you want to read:

So the villains Superman fights, they're all in his head. Which is pretty obvious once he tells the League what he remembers and he mentions four different villains as the root enemy. The two we actually see (and that made the covers of Superman and Action) are Brainiac and Darkseid. Now, Darkseid was killed (well, as killed as Darkseid can be, I guess) a few months back in Superman/Batman. By Superman. And Brainiac was just blown up in Outsiders, like, a damn week ago. You'd think Superman'd remember offing Darkseid so recently. But I guess the whole point's that his head's screwy and unreliable.

There. Fun? Yes.

One other thing before I'm off this topic: which Green Lantern is actually in the Goddamn League right now? This issue's got John Stewart, but JLA has Hal Jordan, and they've got to be happening more-or-less concurrently.

Day of Vengeance # 4: There're four DC miniseries with the "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" logo plastered on them right now. One's the aforementioned Omac Project (probably the best of the bunch, or at least the one that involves the most characters I actually give a damn about), Villains United (an interesting read, but I'd much prefer if the book focused on the Injustice Society and not the Secret Six. What can I say, I like Luthor better than Catman. Or Ragdoll.), The Rann-Thanagar War (which I give almost no damn about. I don't like any Green Lantern or Hawkman enough to buy their books, nor did I read the Adam Strange miniseries that this seems to be taking its cues from) and this one. Day of Vengeance, I have to say, is probably the most impenetrable of the four. If the point of Infinite Crisis is to try and drag in new readers with a big event, I can't see this helping. The six main characters here are, I swear to God, Ragman (last seen in, Jesus, I don't know, one panel of JLA: The Nail ten years ago? Maybe he popped up in Batman, or something), the Enchantress (I'll readily admit that I have no idea who the Enchantress is. I'm not even kind of ashamed that I don't know. All I know for sure is that she's not the Thor villain of the same name), Nightshade, Detective Chimp, Blue Demon and a guy I just kind of assumed was the Shining Knight, even though he had an "N" on his belt buckle and was named Jim Rook instead of Sir Justin.

Now, Nightshade is, to the best of my knowledge, a, like, Q-list Suicide Squadder with a pale imitation of the Shade's powers. The Shade's a more interesting character, and one who'd be tied into this whole Spectre's-Destroying-Magic plot-- er, by the by (spoiler's ahoy):

Okay, the Spectre's God's Wrath, or something, right? Replacement for, as I recall, the original God of Revenge, Eclipso. Typically, he needs a human host. Had Jim Corrigan for a while, then Hal Jordan, now nobody. But God's just... letting him run amuck? That's a remarkably laissez-faire attitude for the deity that blew up Sodom for a little bit of man-love.

Blue Demon used to be one of the foremost supernatural characters in the DCU, so I can buy his inclusion, even though he suffered a super-undignified death in an issue of Starman at the hands of the now-dead female Mist. He got better. Detective Chimp's... a talking monkey with a tiny Sherlock Holmes hat. I can't possibly complain about that. As for Rook, I have no idea who he is. None. At all.

Jesus Christ, would a Who's Who at the beginning of the issue be too much to ask? You're dealing with characters that either haven't had a book in over a decade or haven't made any noteworthy appearances in years (Nightshade popped up as one of the characters trying to pick up the bounty and Batman and Superman in Superman/Batman number... Hell, I don't know, 4?). Enchantress doesn't even have an entry in the online Who's Who, for God's sake.

Robin #140. Yeah, I read Robin. I follow certain writers from book to book, and Bill Willingham's one of them, on the strength of Fables. It's the same reason I'm still reading Day of Vengeance, actually. That and the monkey. Anyway, I really don't have an opinion on this, I guess. I read it every month, hints get dangled, Batman makes token appearances (putting him in, I guess, four places this month outside his own titles? That I know of? Jesus. Some poor continuity cop's got to be having a damned heart attack if he tries to think that through), Scott McDaniel draws really good fight scenes, blah blah blah. I'm never disappointed, but I'm also never all that interested.

Teen Titans #26: Geoff Johns is on that Writers to Follow list. The man writes solid superhero nonsense, even if the conclusions to a lot of his big stories end up seeming a bit flat to me (see: the ends to almost every major storyline in JSA. There's always a feeling like "well, that's over. 'Kay" never a "holy jumpin', that's pretty cool"). It's a shame that the end of the whole Superboy's-half-Lex-Luthor story had to fall in Outsiders, the sister series to Titans, because that book just sucks. This issue's more of a capper on that storyline and a last peek at decent art in this book for a couple months. Not wholly essential, but I'm sure I'll have a much more favorable view of it when I read next month's fill-in.

And why is that? Oh, probably because somebody thought it'd be hilarious to get Rob Liefeld to draw two issues. Yeah, the guy that did Youngblood. And wrote Santa the Barbarian. I wouldn't read it at all, but they got Gail Simone to write the damned thing, in some kind of calculated move to keep me from dropping the title. Almost as if they had a meeting where someone said "we need a writer the fanboys actually like if we want people to not run away screaming." Heartless corporate shills.

Marvel Team-Up #7 and 8. I bought 9 and 10 and wanted the beginning of the story. Kirkman writes a funny Spider-Man. The book's a consistently fun read, and I'm going to start getting it monthly instead of grabbing a pile of back issues on a slow week like I've done in weeks past.

Facedown in the Gutters 7.20.05

Today's topic: Things That Piss Me Off.

  • I won't even mention X-Men books. I haven't read any of them save Whedon's Astonishing since the Powers That Be handed off New X-Men to Chuck Austen. Austen, by the way, decided that what the book needed was a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants including a giant man-elephant named "Mammomax" and, for no reason, Nightcrawler's daughter from an alternate dimension. That said, I'm fairly sure Astonishing would simply appear in my house without me buying it, as it seems to be issued to those of my ilk, popping up under my pillow like some kind of gift from a no-doubt bespectacled, redheaded Geek Fairy.
  • The state of the Avengers. I'll preface this by saying that I really do like Powers. It might be more Oeming's art than Bendis' writing, but I've got a pile of the trades somewhere, not to mention the one loose issue I own, guest-starring Warren Ellis as himself. Hell, I even kind of like Ultimate Spider-Man, though not enough to, you know, actually buy the damn book. Bendis on Avengers, though, is a funny fit. I know the Avengers started as a fistful of popular characters thrown together into one book, just like the Justice Society and JLA before them, and I kind of get the rationale that this New Avengers nonsense is in the same spirit, I still feel like having a team with Wolverine and Spider-Man on it is no less a sales ploy now than when they did that New Fantastic Four bit in the mid-nineties (a team consisting of such perennial team players as the aforementioned Spider-Man and Wolverine alongside Ghost Rider and the Hulk). Besides which, the Avengers aren't the Avengers without, say, the Vision. Or the Wasp. Or Hawkeye. There're a bunch of characters that are simply career Avengers, who can't exist outside of that book convincingly. Other than that, the first arc was six issues where the McGuffin was fucking Sauron. Sauron! A guy that turns into a pterodactyl, for God's sake. Not to mention the fact that it turns out there's another rogue SHIELD group running around the Marvel universe. What's wrong with just using Hydra? Or AIM? Or ULTIMATUM? Or, God, I don't know, Baron Zemo? Why couldn't it be a villain, not a corrupt government functionary? Plus, who the damn really needs a book with both Spider-Man and Spider-Woman in it? Oh, and Bendis gets one more use of the Electro-Kills-The-Power-In-a-Prison break scene before he hits a trifecta of repeating himself (see: Ultimate Six and New Avengers).
  • This one doesn't piss me off so much as confuse me. What's the point of the new DC All-Stars books? I was under the apparently misbegotten impression that they were meant to be continuity-free, classic-style stories, which led me to believe that they were being aimed at those ethereal comic book reading children I hear about from time to time but never see or those guys that love hearing John Bryne bitch about companies being mired in the past. But Miller and Lee's All-Star Batman and Robin features Vicki Vale in her underwear by page three (reminding me of the scene in Road Trip where Tom Green's story, at this point involving inexplicably naked women, is interrupted by a girl telling him that girls don't just walk around topless) and also managed to drop a "Goddamn." So, what, we're dealing with another iteration of Batman to be read by people like me? Oh, fantastic, because the five or ten books Batman appears in monthly just weren't enough.